By Mahatma das
Vengeance, envy, anger, and discord are often higher within religious groups than elsewhere (“We have enough religion to hate, but not enough to love”). We need to be careful about this in Iskcon.
Recently I came across this quote:
“Religious people often become self righteous, judgmental, resentful, condemning, etc. as they see more faults in man than other’s see. Psychologists have noted that piety can easily become an unhealthy form of neurosis rather than a healthy form of religion.”
As devotees we are given standards to follow, standards which can backfire by becoming a criteria upon which we judge others. This will make us more judgmental , critical and sarcastic than before we joined Iskcon. Of course, if we are advancing properly we will become more introspective about our own need to improve. But the judgment of others often happens before the introspection kicks in.
Many devotees also deal with a greater sense of failure/guilt because we have extremely high principles to live up to. This can breed jealousy and envy towards those who we perceive are doing better than us. It also can cause us to feel disgust towards those we perceive are not trying to follow Krsna consciousness well. We are supposed to serve those greater than us and help those below us, but those who do better than us can easily become causes for envy and those who do not do as well can become causes for our judgments, ridicule or condemnation.
Added to the above is the fact that we are emotionally invested in Iskcon and when we see situations we feel are not in line with Srila Prabhupada’s desires, we can become spiteful towards the culprits, the devotees we believe are responsible for those sub standards. This often results in critical or hurtful statements towards leaders, and/or divisiveness. It can also put a disciple in an awkward position when his guru makes such statements.
It is not impossible to create a temple in which we do more judging, condemning, and dividing than encouraging, accepting and supporting. This is not only sad, but a huge failure.
Added to the list of potential religious pitfalls is fanaticism which then breads intolerance. When this fanaticism reaches the level of “I only follow, serve, honor my guru,” we have degraded ourselves to the level of neophytes in which discord is inevitable. We have been plagued by this to varying degrees, in the name of guru bhakti, since Srila Prabhupada’s departure.
When philosophy is put in the hands of preachers who who spend more time dwelling on other’s defects than their own, or who are willing to step on other’s toes to serve their guru and Krsna, then we create a movement in which there is far more distrust and separation than the love and trust Srila Prabhupada implored us to imbibe in our dealings.
Sria Prabhupada’s example was of acceptance, of building a house in which all could feel welcome, encouraged, and above all fully accepted with all our faults. Unless we follow this example, we run the risk of creating a movement which, along with spreading Krishna consciousness, is spreading something toxic, and thus a movement in which good meaning people join and can soon become more critical, judgmental, resentful, guilt ridden – or even depressed – than before because they are not finding acceptance and encouragement for who they are. Many have left Iskcon because of this. This is sad – and bad.
Of course, to root out this kind of negativity we must start with ourselves. Accept, appreciate, and encourage others. If something is wrong, correct with a heart to help, not condemn. Inspire more than criticize.
Many times Srila Prabhupada said “Love and trust.” I think we need a lot more of this.